Tapas for anytime of day

Wagyu and Foie Gras Mini Burger.

WHILE the line “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” (from a song of that title) is uttered often enough, there should be one that says “It’s tapas time somewhere” because this beloved bite-sized food can be enjoyed any time of day.

“Somewhere” in this case includes Altitude on the 53rd floor of Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur, where one can enjoy a new tapas menu --- created by its new executive chef Filippo Abisso --- with a panoramic view of the city skyline.

Cold and hot tapas as well as contemporary tapas make up the menu that revolves around Mediterranean flavours.

Aside from tasting a collection of dishes, Abisso showed his prowess in the art of plating the food, starting with the Tuna Tartare.

First, he expertly took tuna loin and diced it brunoise while making sure to use separate cutting boards for fish, meat and vegetables to avoid cross contamination.

“We get the best tuna fresh from the market. What I learned from a senior chef is that if you have a good product, put in on the plate without too much handling.

“Like good mozzarella, just dress it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Our philosophy is fusion without confusion on the palate,” he said.

In a bowl, Abisso took the tuna and dressed it with lemon vinaigrette, salt, pepper, shallots, capers and crushed pistachio nuts.“A lot of people are afraid to eat raw fish, but the lemon will ‘cook’ the fish,” he noted.

He mixed everything then squeezed tiny dollops of avocado puree and, using a tweezer, garnished the dish with microgreens.

This was appetising freshness on a plate, done in a simple way that anyone could make at home.

“If tuna is too expensive, any white fish will do,” advised Abisso, who helms culinary operations at both Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

He started his career at the tender age of 15 in Italy where he worked for Michelin-starred restaurant Da lano, as a commis de cuisine for two years.

We had a choice of Burrata with red tomatoes, garden basil pesto, bresaola and artisan olive oil, or Beef Carpaccio dressed with organic rocket leaf, sauteed mushrooms and shaved Parmesan.

The Burrata was creamy, light and fresh, while the beef ensemble had the perfect combination of umami from the mushrooms and cheese.

“The lemon from the vinaigrette changes the colour of the beef and gives it more flavour,” said Abisso.

We can always count on the Italians to make a flavourful bowl of gnocchi and Abisso’s Potatoes Gnocchi “Sorrentina” sauteed in tomato sauce, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella was wonderfully balanced.

Next was a choice of Saganaki Prawns cooked with tomatoes, herbs and olive oil and dressed with feta cheese, or Wagyu and Foie Gras Mini Burger comprising Wagyu short rib patty, caramelised onions, pan-seared foie gras and truffle mayonnaise.

In Greek cuisine, saganaki means any dish prepared in a small frying pan and usually eaten with bread.

As a big fan of slider burgers because of their approachable size, I found the Wagyu and Foie Gras minis wonderfully savoury and decadent.

For dessert, we were treated to the Chocolate Pecan Brownie that had milk chocolate cremex as well as chocolate croustillant, and chiacchiere dusted with icing sugar with a side of warm chocolate sauce.

Chiacchiere in Italian means chatter or gossip, but here it is fried pastry dough or fritters that is the country’s common carnival food.

A few bites of this with a cup of coffee will make anyone happy.

ALTITUDE, Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur, No. 2, Level, 53, Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2113 1823). Business hours: 11am to 11pm, daily. Pork-free.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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